Flooding has prompted a state of emergency on a northwestern Saskatchewan First Nation and officials caution that up to 200 people may be forced out of their homes.
Onion Lake Cree Nation is the eighth Saskatchewan community to declare a flood emergency since the weekend.
Emergency officials say one home has already been damaged on the reserve, but the bigger concern is being able to get to people if the water rises further.
“At Onion Lake, their community is being affected by overland flooding, some sewer backups and some road access issues,” said Deanna Wysoskey, emergency Social Services co-ordinator.
“Officials are working to maintain the road access, but if that isn’t possible, potentially up to 200 people may have to leave their homes.”
Social Services is working with the Red Cross to set up a shelter at Lakeland College in Lloydminster.
Rising floodwater has already forced more than 50 people from their homes on the Poundmaker First Nation. They’re staying in hotels in neighbouring communities.
But Wysoskey says the good news is that some of the water may be receding at Poundmaker.
“Some of those residents may be able to return home soon,” she said.
“There are some homes on Poundmaker that have been damaged by the waters and those residents of those homes will need to be away from home for probably a week or two until repairs and cleaning can be completed.”
Emergency declarations are also in place in the towns of Maidstone and Radisson, the village of Borden, the rural municipalities of Great Bend and Elfros, as well as the Poundmaker and Sakimay First Nations.
Officials say a few people have also left their homes in Borden and are staying with other friends or family in town.
Water levels on many creeks in southern Saskatchewan are rising with the spring run-off.
The Water Security Agency has said the entire southern half of the province will see water run-off levels above or well above normal. Run-off is expected to be very high and flooding is likely to occur from Moose Jaw to Indian Head, including Regina, and south past Weyburn to near the United States border. Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford are in the red zone as well.
Colder-than-normal temperatures this spring delayed the melt, but officials say that will change when things warm up this weekend.
Patrick Boyle, with the Water Security Agency, says a lot of the flooding so far has been in local tributaries.
“This is sort of a sign that things are coming in stages rather than one large peak,” said Boyle.
“I guess we need to keep in mind, too, that as the snow melts and we see these stages, we could see a number of peaks on certain river systems.”
Boyle says the agency is watching the Wascana creek system, which runs through Regina.
“That’s one of the one where we didn’t really see a lot of melt so far, so it’ll probably start on the weekend and then peak next week some time.”